Laine de Verre continues Serge Lutens’s quest of toying with the artificial and unexpected. The name in French means glass wool, which is a type of fiberglass used for insulation. It’s certainly not something one would anticipate inspiring a perfume, but it’s all the more reason for Serge Lutens to try. The fragrance, built around shimmering, cool notes, promised to be a shocking and unusual item.
“A domestic quarrel between my feminine and my masculine,” mentioned Lutens’s press release, once again living up to its reputation for an enigmatic turn of phrase. I usually aim for balance and harmony myself, but I was still game to experience any upheaval in a perfume bottle. There was none, but the opening of Laine de Verre was unexpectedly classical and clean.
The perfume is heavy on aldehydes, materials that have a distinctive smell of wax and brushed metal. They’re present in many citrus fruit, flowers and herbs, and while there are numerous aldehydes, each with its own distinctive smell, they give a characteristic fizzy, metallic sensation. Laine de Verre ratchets up the aldehydes and adds tart citrus for a jarring but refreshing effect.
While at first Laine de Verre smells straight out of the shower clean, you quickly notice that it is not quite so simple. It’s not another cool floral like Chanel No 22 or Estée Lauder White Linen, mostly because flowers here are in short supply. It smells like cilantro leaves and soap bubbles, and despite what you might expect, this part is terrific.
What I dislike–and the reason for my 2 star ranking–is the bland drydown that takes Laine de Verre into the dime a dozen cologne category. Once the fizz wears off, you’re left with white musks, raspy woods and an unusually tenacious citrus. Even if you happen to like it, I recommend taking a walk to the masculine perfume counter; chances are you’ll find something similar and less expensive. Good luck if you’re trying to wash off Laine de Verre. It may be inspired by glass wool, but it wears like iron armor.
Serge Lutens Laine de Verre includes notes of aldehydes, citrus, musk, and cashmeran. Available at Barneys, Luckyscent, Aedes, Serge Lutens counters and other retailers. $110/50ml, $160/100ml